Looking ahead to 2022, & a letter asking HOW to re-start going to church….

I love to write, & I love to share my thoughts (musings?) with others. And yet… for most of 2021 I didn’t blog. Instead, I put together at least 1 video post/week, along with my staff, on our church’s YouTube page (you can check it out HERE if you’re interested.)

In the last few weeks of each year, I like to take stock of my life & purpose to make changes to better fit my goals, values, etc… Not “New Year’s Resolutions” per se; rather, intentional, on-purpose life adjustments. Things to stop. Things to start. One thing I am aiming to do in 2022 is to write, to blog again. So here I go.

This week, a friend texted me a question & the answer would have been way to long for this guy to text back…. so I wrote him a letter (an email, really) with an answer that I hope will be helpful. I know he’s not the only one asking this question (I’ve heard it from many, many people over my 22 years pastoring. This isn’t the ONLY answer – every situation is a little different… & the answers I’m offering are  100% my opinion, though I hope they are rooted in not only my experience but also in scriptural principles.

First, the question:

“Do you have thoughts on helping people handle changing seasons & church relationships? I have three different friend groups that all started in (campus/college ministry group) that have all recently ran into hiccups or issues after COVID & all of them appear to be at “restart” phases of finding church or belonging.. They find it hard to be motivated to go to church because they don’t have any connected relationships. Any thoughts or ideas?”

The answer:

Dear friend:
Thanks for reaching out – I feel really strongly about this topic, partially because I’ve got so many old students & old friends who have lived this out… & many of them have still never reconnected with a church & haven’t been a  part of a community since their Campus ministry days.

One of the bummer things about campus groups is they are (largely) homogenous… people the same age, going through the same general things… & there are (usually) many significant, powerful happenings in their lives with Christ. (Think ‘mountaintop experiences.’)

Most churches will be different than that – especially if there is a mix of ages/life experiences (heterogeneous)…. real community, real fellowship takes work & commitment because you’re largely going to be connecting & building relationships based on a commitment to Jesus & being obedient to Him (vs. based on age, things in common, previous friendships, etc.) And sometimes it requires that YOU be the person that helps others to connect; that YOU be the one who reaches out, who helps, who encourages others.

So – what I’ve said (& I’d say to others asking the question) is something like this:
Think back to when you first started going to your campus ministry group – you had to risk, you had to extend yourself, you had to try (probably multiple times.) This is a similar process that you will need to embrace in order to motivate yourself to GO to church, to CONTINUE going to church, & to be APART of a local community for the long -term.
Being a participating member of a church community is really important & significant – here are some ideas for you to get started & get connected:
  • Ask a trusted Christian, church-going friend who is in a local church community – can I come to church with you for a bit to get my bearings? Go there & give it a month or two, minimum..
  • Do you have any connections at a local church? People you know already, friends attending somewhere?Go there & give it a month or two, minimum..
  • If not, are there any churches near you that are familiar (denomination, worship style, philosophy, values, etc) to you? Go there & give it a month or two, minimum..
  • If not, ask God for bravery, boldness, & direction & FIND a church in your city (near or far doesn’t matter, but nearer, aka less than 30 minutes away, is probably best. Then commit yourself to go & participate in the life of the church – attending church but also trying a small group; staying for fellowship opportunities; looking for others with their ‘connectors’ out.

No church is perfect; it is often messy & requires people to really commit to the process of church, having thick skins & perseverance, to be willing to repent & to extend grace to others. It will require giving of yourself, extending yourself, stepping into potentially lonely situations (at least initially). & then not quitting.

And if the church you try doesn’t end up being one you can connect with/in, try another… but keep going. Keep trying. Keep extending yourself. It is worth it.

I know many people who’ve made the ‘leap’ into church community & they love it; & I know many who have never made the jump out of campus ministry to church, & they are still living off the ‘great things God did when I was in college,’ even if it is 20 years later. And that makes me sad, because God isn’t done with you when you leave school

Hope there’s something in here that helps…

Blessings to you

Rosarito, Day 6

After breakfast & devotions, we joined Pastors Don & Sandy, their daughter Emily & our buddy Mario to go to a rehabilitation center located about 5 miles from the middle of nowhere. It’s a place for addicts to get clean & to receive spiritual training & become disciples of Christ. The program is 9 months long, & there are currently 36 men going through the program.

I’m not kidding when I say the center is in the middle of nowhere: once you leave the highway & paved roads, it’s another 5 miles on a bumpy, pothole ridden “come to Jesus” dirt road, so named because it is so treacherous it makes you repent & cry out to the Lord for deliverance. The rehab center has no running water or electricity; the guys at the center survive day-to-day off the land. They cut firewood for heat/heating water for showers/dishes. They draw their own water & lug it by hand to their kitchen, dorms, & restrooms. They wash their clothes on ancient washboards, & hang them to dry on cacti (true story!) They raise rabbits, chickens, & a pig for… food for special occasions. (The pig is for Christmas.) They pray & read their Bibles on the top of a hard-to-climb hill with a million dollar view, deafening silence, & a tangible presence of God. The center is rustic, yet homey. Isolated, though in the “Moses in the wilderness” type of isolation. There are several guys who have been through the program who serve as mentors & coaches for the newbies, whether they are detoxing in the infirmary, or actively participating in the daily chores necessary for survival.

Our guide, Frank, explained: “God uses everything here at the center to teach us, to help us to grow, to overcome addiction. We work hard, but we see His hand in our lives, & we experience salvation, deliverance, healing, & redemption. Many of us tried to waste our lives, but God had a plan to rescue us, & He’s using this place to help do that.”

The team arrived just as a church service was starting – most everyone went in, while theBean & I partnered with Emily to prepare the hotdogs & other food we brought for lunch. The service went on for quite a while (3 hours?) – & it would be easy for me to say, “man, that was too long.” At the same time, for many of these guys, this is the last option they have, the last chance to get clean, to save their lives. And they treat their church service like it matters, like it can change their lives. Like they’re desperate for change, desperate for God to do a miracle in them. They’re doing the hard work of admitting their wrong, their sin, & their inability to solve the problem themselves. And by coming to the rehab center, they’re submitting themselves to the mighty hand of God, asking Him for divine intervention. So I guess when they have church, its more than an event on their calendar: its an encounter with God, in the context of relationship with each other.

After the service, the guys came out & set up tables & chairs – & then proceeded to share the tortas (sandwiches) they had made for the day, which just happened to be Family Day. One Saturday a month, the guys’ families are permitted to visit them in the afternoon. On this day, there was 1 (one) lady & her daughter who came. 1 (one) family represented, out of 36 guys. As I think about it, I reflect on the immaculate grounds, the parking spots in the dirt that were freshly chalked & numbered, the tables set in preparation for loved ones that didn’t make the trek. And I weep.

I know many of these guys have burned bridges with years of broken promises – promises to quit using, to quit stealing, to quit lying & manipulating –  to be the dad/husband/son/friend their loved ones needed them to be. And they didn’t do it. They have broken many hearts, & some might say they are reaping the consequences of their actions. Maybe they’d be right. I don’t know.

What I do know is this: Jesus Christ REDEEMS broken, twisted, wasted lives. He specializes in resurrecting the spiritually (& even physically) dead, in doing the impossible. And as for the forgotten, abandoned, hurting rehab guys? He places them in families – surrounded by people who will support them in their new life in Christ. And I am honored & privileged that our team was able to be at the center today to act as surrogate family, to share a simple meal, to play volleyball, basketball, & pool. To engage in conversation, to listen to the stories of real CHANGE that God is doing in their lives. To be witnesses to the evidence of what had once been hardened, even bad men, whose hearts have been softened & made new by the love, forgiveness, & redemption available through Christ. And I am so proud of every one of the Hillside-ers for engaging the men in their current life situation, & treating them with compassion & dignity. Not for cameras or so that it could be seen; rather, it was because it was what Jesus would do, if He were walking in our shoes today.

Our crew was somber as we left the center – the significance of what had happened today was weighty on our shoulders & hearts. So we came back into Rosarito & got ice-cream. While we were eating our frozen yummies, we sat outside & watched the life of downtown Rosarito on a Saturday unfold in front of us. American tourists everywhere. Busy police officers directing traffic & dealing with the unruly. Local indigenous people (Mexican indians) weaving in & out of traffic & the sidewalks, hawking their trinkets, blankets, chicle, & ponchos. The sensory experience was overwhelming – sights, sounds, & smells.

We have had a quiet night at La Casa de Descansa – ate leftovers (4th times a charm for me & nachos) & played UNO on the outside patio. Prepped for our Sunday service at Hope Chapel Rosarito tomorrow. Debriefed about our experiences of today, & prayed: for the guys at the center, for our host pastors, the Godwins, & for Hillside. Sang a couple of songs. Headed in the direction of bed. Mostly.

I’ve been sitting at the desk in the room 5 of us guys share, looking out the window at a field full of locals gathered for a night out of music & food. Mariachi music blaring from speakers as big as a truck. Hoping the generator running them runs out of juice soon. Catching up on the SF Giants. Snatching yet another defeat from the jaws of victory (how long must this go on?) Contemplating life here in Rosarito, & what we’ve been exposed to. Pondering home, & knowing that I know that I know that theBean & I are incredibly blessed to have Hillside as our church home & community. I feel such joy & support from those at home.

Well, the music shows no sign of fading, & the dancers in the field must not be subject to foot fatigue like I am, because they’re still going strong after 4 hours. But I’m not. I’m heading to bed, for realsies this time.

May God bless you richly – & may you know the height, depth, & breadth of His love for you – & the power of the redemptive work in your life, through the Holy Spirit. And may God work in you the mercy, compassion, & fierceness of His Son, Jesus Christ, so you are compelled to carry out His mission wherever you are…. Doing what Jesus would be doing, if He was walking in your shoes.

Because He is.


ZAPPED! & other musings on a Tuesday evening…

Several times over the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve had the same conversation. It starts with someone bringing up something about God. Church. Religion. And each time, the person has said something to the effect of:

I would NEVER, EVER even think of going to church… if I did, as soon as I walked through the doors I’d probably:

  • get ZAPPED by lightning
  • burst into flames
  • cause the building to fall down around me
  • experience something crushing, cruel, & horrible…”

The first couple of times I heard it, I was in Germany; once in downtown Frankfurt, once at the youth hostel where we were having the pastors’ conference. I attributed it to the general state of unchurched-ness of The Fatherland. Silly me.

And then in the last 10 days, I’ve had similar conversations here at home, at Starbucks, the new & improved Great Basin Brewery, & even in the parking lot at church. All people bemoaning the probable (& most certainly horrible) outcome of their crossing the threshold of the church building.

In a couple of the situations, I had the opportunity to pursue some clarification – here’s a ‘sum-up’ of what the people I talked to thought…

  • most had funky ideas about God & His character.
  • A couple thought that somehow, someway Fred & the family Phelps are accurate representations of God’s heart for people.
  • Most expect church to be a place of  self-righteous nitpicking, & an endless barrage never-measure-up condemnation & accusations.
  • A common thought was seeing self as Excluded. Beyond help or rescue.
  • Not seeing how they in their uniqueness could or would fit in a ‘church world’ that is perceived as mostly irrelevant to ‘real’ life.

I don’t know whose quote it is, or how bad I’m mangling it, but  it goes something like this:

You may be the only church a person goes to, & may be the only Bible someone reads.

For me, it speaks to the need to live in a way that accurately & faithfully reflects Christ’s love, acceptance, & forgiveness – & a love that meets people right where they are. And it reminds me a bit of a post my friend Tim wrote not long ago about getting the church to people.

TheWeez is on her middle school basketball team; I love going to her games. The last several, her playing time has been next to nil, & she’s discouraged. More than that, she’s frustrated with what her coach says to her (& the 2 other girls in similar spots:)

“I’m really sorry I didn’t play you; but we needed our good players in the game so we could win big, ’cause I really don’t like the Coach from (insert school name here). Next time I’ll try to get you in the game more”

My theWeez is a smart girl – & after this happened the 2nd time (its been 4 games & counting by now,) she vented to me, saying, “Daddy! Does he think I’m DUMB? That I don’t know that when he’s ‘apologizing’ for not playing me he’s really saying I’m not a good PLAYER.”

I’d love to be able to soften the blow to my precious theWeez, to somehow make this situation better… but I can’t. She’s getting a chance to experience, up close & personal, that just because someone is an adult in their 30s, there is no guarantee that they’ve ever really grown up.

I’m sorry my girl.

Oh, & Coach N, theWeez is on to you. And she is not amused.

December, where are you GOING in such a hurry? Stop, sit a spell, & hang out a while.

I’m reading, slowly, through a great book right now by Dallas Willard called, The Spirit of the Disciplines . I know for some that the word ‘discipline’ has negative connotations; I love how Willard works through & around the twistings & perversions of the good word ‘discipline,’ which comes from the root word disciple. In it, he discusses the actions, behaviors, attitudes, & practices that go towards spiritual formation, which to me is something like the nuts & bolts of what it takes to grow up in Christ. I’m already thinking how I can take what I’m learning & apply it, both personally (in my life,) & corporately (within our church family.)

iDoey is in the final week of preparation for his Christmas holiday extravaganza – a song & dance-fest put on by his show-choir-type group called Intermezzo. I’m amazed at the preparation this group of 40 students puts in, & am thankful for the dedicated coordinator & the staff that makes this so much fun for my boy. Thanks Mr. Lorentzen!

Ahh. Pondering greatness: The San Francisco Giants are STILL the World Series Champions.


Thursdays might be my favorite work day. Not only is Thursday my ‘Friday,’ but most Thursdays during the lunch hour I get to have fellowship with a dear friend.



Now, The Fellowship of the Ring has a positive connotation.

Fellowship in the real world? Not so much.

Fellowship at church? Yikes.

Why? Because church hurts.

I’ve attended church almost weekly since I was 2-ish. When I hear the word ‘fellowship,’ think of being chided to “say hi to the person behind you,” pasting a grin on your face, turning around to see the back of the head of the person you’re supposed to greet.

I think of post-church service coffee time – kinda awkward standing around looking at the other friendly strangers in the room… giving thanks to the LORD on high for the Costco muffins on the table which allow you to stuff your mouth… thereby giving you a ‘pass’ on the whole interaction thing… getting by on the mumbled, “And how you doin’?” “Good!” “Oh great.” “See ya next week.”
The sigh of relief when you’d make it to the parking lot, to your car, & then HOME!

Church hurts.

It might be because we often experience underdeveloped, mostly surface-y relationships… which hurts because we talk so much about how deep & meaningful our relationships & fellowship are & ‘should’ be… & when we’re not experiencing that, it’s easy to get desperate, feel frustrated, & to become disillusioned.

It could be disappointment at unmet expectations. Our own (or others) extreme neediness. Unhealth, selfishness, & immaturity in our interactions with others.

Perhaps its the expectation that something of life-changing significance, true fellowship, will take place in a rushed, crowded environment where there’s literally 45 seconds to ‘talk’…

Or it could be that the time we were open & transparent with another, we experienced swift, sure judgment. Where someone (well-meaning or not), attempted to Fix Us. Apply a ready-made, black-and-white, one-size-fits-all church solution to our complex & often gray lives… Where someone’s ‘gift’ to us was their honesty. (If the truth doesn’t happen in love, is it really a gift? But I digress.)

Maybe we end up mistaking real fellowship with the underdeveloped & surface-y relationships… That’s not what fellowship is intended to be. Or what it CAN be. Its definitely not what is referred to in Acts 2:42:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, & fellowship, to the breaking of bread, & the prayers…”

Fellowship (the Greek word “koinonia”) has a literal definition, but also one that is implied – the literal is… “joint participation; communion; sharing in anything; intimacy; community.” I believe that the implied definition would be along the lines of, “prioritized time & space shared with others around a common purpose, resulting in knowing & being known. Mutual encouragement that results in the growth, relationship, & development of all parties…

Which is why I love Thursdays. Lunch hour, we talk & listen… sharing trivialities & meaning of life stuff. Visit & revisit challenges, struggles, joys, & hopes. Wrestle through what God’s saying & doing in & around us. Close with a brief prayer.

I always come away encouraged. Refreshed. Strengthened. Feeling like I’ve grown & am growing in my relationship with God. Thankful to be living life with others – to know that they love me for who I am, & don’t try to fix me.

I know I don’t have it figured out, but I think that fellowship takes patience. Time. Commitment to the long-term. Willingness to grow. Care. Contending for authenticity. Risk. Be vulnerable. To listen. Release another from my need to pass (final) judgment. Encouragement, persistence, & a willingness to hope & want the best for another. Love that unconditionally extends self, embraces another, & trusts the work of God – the Holy Spirit, to do the transforming & fixing.

My life is richer because of fellowship.

I saw love…

I saw love…

Last week, I decided to be proactive & deal with my soon-to-expire drivers license. Brother told me what Tom had told him – waiting in line FOR-ever at the Galletti NV-DMV is over-rated… so he told me about the NV-DMV Commercial license renewal place thingy on E. Greg. Evidently, the word on the street is that the Commercial Drivers License place also does REGULAR license renewals for Rubes like me. Even better, Brother had spent a total of 15 minutes in the place & finished all the business one could ever want to finish. Ahhh. Sounds like my kind of place.

Found it. And let’s just say it was a leettlle bit busier that when Tom & Brother had been there. Waiting room had 10 people in it, (which I know is still less than Galletti on an average day,) so I went to the cool, “Take A Number” station, pulled Lucky 403, & found a seat. And waited.

I hadn’t brought any of my normal time passers with me (books, chocolate, portable coffee, or wasser mit kohlensäure) so I went into introspection mode, which unfortunately lasted only about 37 seconds. Done with that, so I decided to look around the room & ‘observe’ the other individuals that were sharing the space that I had mistakenly assumed would be empty.

A couple in the waiting area caught my eye – it was the worried look on her face, & the hushed but strong tones they were speaking in. If I had to guess how old they were, I’d have said 50, but it was hard to tell, because it appeared that they had both lived ‘hard’ lives… you know what I mean… the years had etched themselves into their countenance, leaving visible marks from grief, disappointment, & hardship. Other signs – clothes: a worn & grubby sundress… workman’s shirt, jeans, & boots that had seen much better days… the tell-tale yellowish residue on skin & hair from smoking too many packs of cigarettes for too long, resulting in the visible affects that your mom warned you would happen if you smoked all your life. The woman looked a bit like I remember my Grandma Ramona looking…

I watched from the corner of my eye as their communication became more animated – it became apparent that the woman was scared… she had to take a vision test for her license renewal, & it was obvious she didn’t think she’d pass it. The anxiousness & worry became more pronounced as she got closer to her turn at the vision-apparatus. The man touched her arm gently & made “Shushing” noises… not the “be quiet” ones, but the kind you make to comfort a crying baby.

Her body stiffened when her number was called; she sat in the chair in front of the machine, & he sat next to her, his hand on her back. She took the test & passed. She was relieved. Now to get the picture for the new license.

They walked together to the area where the new pictures would be taken – she was self-conscious – I saw her look disapprovingly at herself, her clothes, & run her fingers through her hair – the signs of sadness, not wanting to get her picture taken.

The man pulled something out of the back pocket of his work pants. It was a hair brush – making the same, reassuring “Shushing” noises, he turned her towards him & began to gently, carefully, brush her long hair. After a couple of minutes of this, he put the brush away & with great care arranged her hair behind her ears, pulled back a bit from her face. And as she was called to the picture taking station, he put one hand on her chin, gazed into her eyes, & quietly said, “You are so pretty.”

The eyes that had been downcast, preoccupied, & self-conscious glimmered & sparkled with the confidence that comes from being loved by someone, that comes by choosing to believe that what you’ve just heard is the God’s honest truth. She sat & smiled for her picture, then arose, took the man’s hand, & they walked out together.

I saw love… & it touched me…

cleaning the freezer & other musings on a Monday…

I’m not pregnant, but I’m nesting. Went through the pantry with theBean. Swept it. Through away stuff with shelf life that ended in 2007. Truly.

Went through the refrigerator. Ditto. Found a milk carton, (MILK!) that expired in December 2008. Ouch. Never even saw it. Found some food that Julia made. (Yes the Julia that went back to Deutschland in February…) Nice. (NOTE: This doesn’t reflect on anyone’s personal cleaning habits… it’s just a blog, man.)

Today, I decided to tackle the freezer, since theBean was headed for Shift #2 on the day. Went through the freeze-dried foods, the unwrapped icy-treats, & other stuff that one finds in the freezer. Then, I came across some Drumsticks. You know, that incredible tasty ice-cream treat that sits on a sugar cone, covered with quik-dry chocolate & peanuts?

Well, what I found were the ‘heads’ of the drumsticks. Turns out, the cones had all be eaten, & some kind soul had placed the drumstick heads back into the freezer for anyone that might want the leftovers.

So I did what anyone would do. I ate the chocolate off the ice-cream & put them back in the freezer. Silly us. :)

Went to the Hand Dr. for I-Doey. Got the stitches out. Looks good – like he’ll be able to start in with his summer weights & football stuff tomorrow – just no contact drills for the next 3 weeks, at which time more X-Rays will be taken to check on the progress of young I-Doey’s finger.

We’re hoping, praying & believing for a complete recovery, without any of the finger-hypersensitivity that the Dr. said might be a possibility. Here’s to healing. Woohoo!

According to my 2 oldest children, I may be showing signs of getting smarter. Or at least being smarter than they thought I was. I will update you on any more progress I make.

I’m ecstatic – the book re-release that I’ve been waiting for is finally here… Jerry Cook’s classic, Love, Acceptance, & Forgiveness: Being Christian in a Non-Christian World came out last week. This has been one of the books that has most formed my outlook on life, the Church, & my view of God.

If you have never read it, by all means, get a copy & do so. If you have, get the re-release today. It is the classic you remember that has been brought up to date & made even better… its even got a ‘study guide’ included in the back.

On my second reading of the re-release today. :)

Thinking about how thankful I am that the Bible doesn’t need to be updated.

I believe that we’re on the brink of something large. A fundamental shift in the way we live, work together, & carry out life. Not trying to come up with the Next Big Thing, but rather trying to cooperate with what I believe are the doors that are opening in front of us.

New ways of doing my job – new roles, with other things not happening any more. Trusting that God has provided & will provide for what comes next. Thankful I don’t have to have all the answers, but just do my part. And encourage others to do the same. Wherever they are. Cryptic enough?

I think I’ll go eat some more chocolate off the Drumstick heads.

confession, & other thoughts…

Last week, I was doing some studies on what it means to REPENT… &, as often happens, I got lost on a rabbit trail, & spent some time chasing something that was connected loosely to what I’d started with. It was the word, CONFESS – (You can read the verses I was reading HERE & HERE)

I unexpectedly discovered that I have a very, very negative association, a nasty feeling in my belly, around the word confess… maybe its because I have watched too many “cop” shows, where “getting a confession” is something that the good guys do to the bad guys, often under duress. The threat of pain &/or punishment, emotional manipulation, & even downright blackmail are all fair game in the pursuit of a confession. And when a confession is finally worked out of the “perp”, they’re left as a broken, weak, vulnerable mess.

Transfer this context to the scriptures – & the instruction we’re given to ‘confess our sins to one another,’ & that a part of repentance is the confession, the owning up to our sin, our wrongdoing. I found myself thinking, “if confession is like what I’m associating it with, it doesn’t go along with what we know of God & His nature as revealed in the Scriptures & in the person of Jesus Christ – meaning, He is always, now & forever, a predictably good God – & doesn’t put us through torture, torment, & blackmail in order to sweat a confession out of us.

So when I was chasing the Rabbit of Confession, I decided to take a look at what words the Bible writers used to get a better picture of the intended definition for confess in the original language.

And the definitions for confess, with the deluxe Strong’s Concordance Word # next to each:

ἐξομολογέω – exomologeō – CONFESS: G1843 – to confess, to profess; acknowledge openly and joyfully; to one’s honour: to celebrate, give praise; to profess that one will do something, to promise, agree, engage…

ὁμολογέω – homologeō – CONFESS: G3670 – to say the same thing as another; to confess, to admit or declare one’s self guilty of what one is accused of; to profess; to declare openly, speak out freely; to profess one’s self the worshipper of one; to praise, celebrate…

To acknowledge openly & joyfully… my sins? To celebrate… where I’ve blown it? How could I do that? And why would I? Hmmm.

I let what I’d read sink in, & really meditated on it for several days; still, I couldn’t come to grips with what this might mean, what it would look like, lived out in the context of my life, as I would REPENT, ask God to change my thinking & to transform me…

And then today, a light bulb went on.

Confession goes hand in hand with repentance – & can be celebrated, acknowledged openly & joyfully, not because our sins are so great & legendary that they’re to be celebrated. Not at all – sin ends up in death & destruction. Always. Every time. And there’s nothing to celebrate about that. BUT…

There IS something to be celebrated in the freedom that comes from confessing as a part of our repenting… from bringing sin & wrongdoing into the light . When I confess to God (& to another trustworthy, faithful person) I am not being self-deprecating; I’m agreeing with God’s assessment of sin. And by bringing it to the light, I also bring it to the One person who is able to forgive me of my wrongdoing, & who has promised in His Word to not only forgive me, but to purify & cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

Hmmm. So I’m starting to get it. I think. I just know that my belly doesn’t hurt anymore.

And in other thoughts… in some ways, I can’t wait for baseball season to start already. I can only hope that the games will provide a welcome distraction from the daily barrage of accusations/revelations/discussions about PEDs, steroids, & HGH. Still, I’m not holding my breath.


Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Woo woo woo.

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson? ‘Joltin Joe’ has left and gone away? Hey hey hey. Hey hey hey.

a little help?

I’d like to ask a favor of you – reader of this blog, the readers that I know, the blog-lurkers that I don’t… even the random person that stumbled across this page in a chance Google search or ‘go to next blog’ moment.

I’m doing some studying for some writing & a speech or two, & would like to utilize your vast life experience to help myself out…

When you hear/think of the words “REPENT” & “REPENTANCE”, what comes to your mind? What do you think of? It might be:

  • An image
  • thought
  • concept
  • idea
  • even a specific memory
  • Thanks in advance for your input.

    The confronting of fear, lies, & other Friday fun…

    The experiences & interactions of the last few days have given me cause to… pause. Reflect. Pray. In the middle of it, what keeps running through my head is this:

    Jesus traveled through all the cities & villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues & announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever He went, He healed people of every sort of disease & illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great & they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the LORD who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send out more workers for His fields.” Matthew 9:35-38 NLT

    Luke 10:1,2 also relays this story – with the added context of Jesus’ sending out 72 disciples, with the instructions to be doing the same as Him… & to pray for God, the LORD of the harvest – to send more workers for His fields…

    And it resonates – not just because of the faceless masses, people I don’t know… but because of those within “my circle” – friends, & friends of friends – people needing the Good Shepherd, so many with such a wide range of needs that it almost drives me to distraction… I dig. Why?

    It bothers me so much because of my own felt inadequacy, & brokenness – & I wonder what I can do? I know Jesus Christ, & I’m following Him. I know that the Holy Spirit convicts, changes, & transforms, brings from darkness to light. And I ‘know’ my role is to be somebody that lives, that models, Christ in me, doing what He would do, being what He is in the context of my circle. And yet I’m afraid. If & when I engage with people, I’m afraid it won’t be enough. I articulate my fear: what if God doesn’t follow through?

    Now. It’s out. Brought into the light, the fear that has been twisting me, nagging in the shadows of my heart is exposed for what it is. A lie, sown in doubt, used to trip me to hopelessness. Inaction. Distraction. To focus solely on my own issues, short-comings, areas that need to be ‘put back together’… & not falling on the freedom, entering the adventure of faith, trust, & life. Knowing that I know that I know that God is able to heal. Restore. Transform. Forgive. Love. And that He has commissioned, empowered, & strengthened me to do just that. And to look for opportunities to do so.

    So instead of waiting for someone else, someone stronger, farther along, more competent, more ‘together’ to be one of the ‘workers’ in His harvest, I know that God has sent me instead. And you. And it starts with love. First me receiving it from God, then sharing what I’ve been given with others. I choose love – healthy, Godly, unconditional, love. To speak the truth in love. Invest in people, without regard for what’s in it for me? Without hope of reciprocity. And I pray along with the Apostle Paul:

    When I think of the wisdom & scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees & pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven & on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more & more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, & how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life & power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church & in Christ Jesus forever & ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

    Friends #1 – what got me thinking was ‘Facebook’

    Social networking is what they say is one of the purposes of Facebook. So when I veeerrryyy reluctantly joined, it was only as a ‘keeping in touch’ tool with a group of new friends from different places in Europe & the US… & only because Facebook was the chosen medium to do so.

    What does that MEAN, social networking? I labor over that. Does it involve meaningful connections, virtually created, ala internet, using the fact that I ‘know’ someone for something that profits me, or merely a panacea that only serves to assuage the burning human need for real connections…?

    Ok, I kind of get it – it helps us keep in touch with people we knew in high school &/or have interacted with over the years of life… BUT, for me, being friends is something I take seriously – it means something significant to me, more than a ‘social networking contract,’ something that can be put down as easy as clicking a mouse.

    For example, I take time & really contemplate before ‘accepting’ a friend request… thinking, “Am I this person’s friend in real life? Would I/have I hung with them, drank a cup of joe, & shot the breeze? Shared deep thoughts? Pondered the complexities of life?” And depending on the answer to that internal debate, I have clicked CONFIRM. Or IGNORE.

    There’ve been times where I overrode my gut & CONFIRMED when I think to be true to me & to not gloss over the reality of my relationship (or lack thereof) would have totally been to IGNORE. And then what? Fake it? Be ‘nice’ & carry on with surface level pleasantries once every blue moon, all the while ignoring the reality that if I saw my ‘friend’ in a store, I don’t think we’d interact. Perhaps that’s too mercenary, too serious, or just melodramatic – be that as it may, it’s led to a renewed contemplation of friendship & what makes it special…

    BTW: I’m not going to rehash my BOUNDARIES posts here, though I may allude to them… –as I think they are really applicable to this topic (& any other that deals with relationships & interpersonal interactions.) Just know that the Cloud & Townsend info is a big part of the background of my thought processes.

    And so it begins… I thought that my outlining would help my writing not be rambling & all over the place, but it turns out that rambling may be in the eye of the beholder. No matter – I’m going to lay out my friendship ‘givens’ – signs of a good friendship. Warning signs of a bad one. Assessing motivation in developing relationships. Looking to get from God what can only be gotten from God. And maybe some other stuff.

    Coming up next: Signs, signs, everywhere the signs…